If you are a first-time mother, you may have heard of the term baby dropping. Other people may remark on your belly saying, “looks like the baby has dropped.” But what does that mean? Do you need to be worried? When can you expect it to happen? Don’t worry, in this article we will answer all of your questions about baby dropping.
What is Baby Dropping?
While baby dropping seems like a scary term on the surface it is actually a completely normal process. Baby dropping, also known as “lightening,” is when your baby moves into position to ease labor. See? Not so scary.
Think of dropping as a line from the opening of the vagina to the top of your baby’s head. Then add ruler marks to the line; 0 being the beginning of your pelvic bone, +5 being the top of the uterus, and -5 being the opening of your vagina. During labor, your baby has to go from point +5 to point -5. So this process of them moving from the top of the uterus to the opening of the pelvic bone is called “dropping.”
In some cases this dropping occurs a few weeks before labor while in other cases it may not happen at all.
Does the Baby have to drop?
There are multiple stages of labor. And baby dropping is one of the beginning stages that your labor is about to occur. For some women (often first-time mothers) the baby will drop a few days to a few weeks before the due date. This is believed to give your pelvic muscles more time to adjust to the labor process.
For other women (typically if this is a subsequent child) your baby may not drop until a few hours before you go into labor. This is possibly due to the fact that your body has already experienced the labor process and the pelvic muscles no longer need as much time to prepare.
If your baby doesn’t drop at all, don’t worry! Not all women experience baby dropping, and many women experience a healthy labor without their baby dropping at all.
When to expect the baby to drop
Like we mentioned earlier it is almost impossible to determine when the baby will drop, because every pregnancy is different. For some women it occurs at around 35-36 weeks and for others it doesn’t occur until they are in labor.
Even more interesting, some women will have their baby drop between 35-36 weeks but then move back up closer to their due date. In almost every case, this is not something you should worry about, but if you feel concerned you should contact your doctor.
What does it feel like?
So, now that you know what baby dropping is, you are probably asking yourself what it feels like. Well, according to most women it feels like they are walking around with a bowling ball between their legs. So probably a little uncomfortable; but again, this isn’t the case for all women.
It’s not always apparent when the baby drops. There are some women who feel it happen in one sudden movement, and there are other women who never feel it happening at all. In most cases it depends on how you have been carrying over the course of your pregnancy. If you have had a low belly the entire time, you probably won’t notice when your baby gradually shifts towards your pelvic bone. On the other hand, if you have been carrying high you may notice gradual changes that indicate your baby is dropping.
Signs and symptoms your baby is dropping
There are a few indicators that many women claim to experience when their baby starts to drop. Here is what you can look for:
- You can breathe easier. If your baby has been resting up towards the top of your uterus this can cause pressure on your lungs. As the baby drops you may notice that the previous pressure has been released and you can breathe easier.
- More pressure in the pelvic region. This is what many women describe as the bowling ball between their legs. Your baby’s head is now resting in your pelvic bone area which can cause some pressure.
- More discharge. Because your baby’s head is now resting on your cervix, this can cause the cervix to thin and release it’s mucus plug. This mucus plug can then come out in the form of some extra discharge.
- More bathroom breaks. You may notice that you need to go pee more than you used to. Your baby is so close to your bladder at this point that the increased pressure can cause you to need to pee more often.
- Pelvic pain. Some women experience little “flashes” of pain in their pelvic area when their baby rests. This is believed to be because of the pressure on your ligaments in the pelvic area.
- Your hunger increases. Because your baby is no longer resting near your stomach you may find that your hunger increases.
- Back Pain. Similar to pelvic pain, back pain can be caused because of the increase in pressure on the lower spine area.
How to Encourage Baby to Drop
So, what does all of this mean? Well, if your baby is dropping it means they are preparing for labor. Some women may even decide to encourage their baby to drop in an attempt to induce labor. While there has not been a lot of scientific research into this method of induction, many women claim to have success by:
Doing pelvic tilts
Walking is said to help because it relaxes the pelvic region and can open up the hips. Squatting is said to do the same thing. Similarly pelvic tilts help to guide the baby into the pelvic opening and increase their likelihood of dropping.
Baby dropping is a natural part of the labor process. It is difficult to determine when this will happen as it is different for every woman and every pregnancy. Make sure you talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have pre-labor and post-labor.
It’s just as important that you take care of yourself postpartum as it is during your pregnancy. Your body has gone through an intensive process, and it will take a while to get back to normal. Don’t worry though, Bellefit is here to help you with all your postpartum needs. From comfortable panties, nursing bras, compression leggings, and even postpartum girdles – we have everything you need for a smooth and fast recovery.
We hope this has been a helpful and informative article.